Reverse mentoring topics | Chronus

5 Reverse Mentoring Topics to Empower Reverse Mentors

Reverse mentoring flips the standard mentoring script. Instead of older, more experienced employees imparting their wisdom, younger or less experienced employees guide the relationship in a reverse mentorship. Often, the goal is to tutor senior employees on technology. However, reverse mentoring can support many different missions. It’s also a great way to encourage cultural and generational understanding among employees. Here are some reverse mentoring topics for reverse mentors and mentees to address.

While the junior employee may be teaching skills to the senior employee, both parties have opportunities to learn more about and from each other, which is crucial to harmonious company culture and cohesive teams that work together for the good of the organization.

Reverse mentoring topics | Chronus

Benefits of a Reverse Mentoring Program

Company-sponsored mentoring programs provide multiple benefits to organizations and participants. As mentoring brings colleagues with diverse levels of experience together for personalized learning and guidance, it boosts employee engagement, supports professional development, improves career prospects and helps create a positive company culture. The same is true for reverse mentoring. More benefits include:

Higher Retention

Reverse mentoring encourages top talent to grow with a company. It’s an effective tool for retaining Millennials and older generations and attracting Gen Z employees too. Reverse mentoring helps create conditions that make workers want to stay in several ways, including fostering a learning environment, building personal connections among employees and demonstrating that the company invests in the future of their employees.

Encouraging Diversity and Inclusion

Reverse mentoring can help support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Global law firm Linklaters, for example, created a reverse-mentoring program to pair company leaders with employees who could offer personal perspectives on diversity issues. Even when reverse mentoring isn’t specifically aimed at DEI, it offers the chance for employees of all levels to get to know people they might not normally come in contact with, contributing to greater understanding among colleagues with varied backgrounds and experience.

Developing Leadership

Reverse mentoring builds leadership within an organization in several different ways. It offers junior employees the chance to take on a leadership role with their senior colleagues, giving them practical experience in teaching and guiding others. It also allows senior employees to see their mentors’ leadership potential in action. These types of opportunities to identify leaders-in-the-making are crucial to a strong leadership pipeline, which is key for succession planning and organizational stability.

Reverse mentoring topics | Chronus

5 Reverse Mentoring Topics

The reverse mentoring topics outlined in this section will help mentors and mentees focus on the goals of the program and the interests of the mentee. But it’s helpful for both mentors and mentees to have topics at hand that they’re prepared to bring up to deepen the mentoring relationship and cover the necessary ground. Below are some examples of reverse mentoring topics and sample questions that can help get discussions going.

Generational Differences

Generational differences are an important topic for reverse mentoring. In a typical reverse mentorship, mentors and mentees belong to different generations—which is one thing that makes these relationships so productive. The goal is to explore those differences, discover similarities, and understand one another’s generation better. These reverse mentoring topics could be sparked by questions such as:

  • How do you see your generation as different from others?
  • What assumptions have previous generations made about your generation?
  • What do you wish other generations understood better about your generation?

Unique Challenges of Their Roles

The heart of mentoring is the opportunity for the mentee to talk about their unique challenges and receive personalized, one-on-one feedback. In a reverse mentoring situation, the (often less experienced) mentor may not be able to offer advice on all the challenges of the more experienced mentee, but they can offer a different perspective than the mentee might normally be exposed to. Sample questions (depending on the goals of the mentorship) could include:

  • Are you experiencing any challenges related to generational differences?
  • Do you have any challenges related to cultural change at the company (or the lack of it)?
  • Do you have any challenges related to technology?

Learning Skills

Skills transfer is a key element of mentoring and often, it’s baked into the goals for reverse mentoring programs. Typically, skills to be learned will be defined from the beginning, but as the mentorship progresses, there’s an opportunity to discover other skills that would be valuable. Questions for uncovering these needs could include:

  • Are there any skills you’re struggling with?
  • Are there any skills you wish you had but never had the time/opportunity to develop?
  • What do you think are the most valuable skills for the organization now and going into the future?

Potential Biases in the Workplace

Helping people with different experiences understand each other better is a common goal for reverse mentoring. This includes the experience of bias. Often, those who’ve never experienced it may not even be aware when bias appears and impacts others. Shedding light on the reality of bias at work can be a difficult conversation, but this understanding is crucial for a healthy organizational culture of diversity and respect. Participants can introduce this discussion with questions such as:

  • Have you ever dealt with bias in the workplace?
  • What are some common situations where bias appears?
  • What should you do when you see colleagues treating each other in ways driven by bias?

Dealing With Change

Change is constant in organizations that continue to grow and evolve. But it’s not always easy for people to change at the same pace as the culture or company. Reverse mentoring is a way for employees who may be more adaptable to help those who may be more resistant to change. The key to this is understanding and empathy. Questions to approach this topic could include:

  • Are there any changes within the organization you’re struggling with?
  • What are some techniques for dealing with change?
  • What would help you to accept particular changes more easily?

Reverse mentoring topics | Chronus

Giving Reverse Mentors the Tools to Be Successful

While mentoring may come naturally to some people, all mentors can use some structure and guidance to help them be successful. This is particularly helpful for the less experienced employees who typically take the lead in a reverse mentorship. Below are some key reverse mentoring best practices in which reverse mentors may need some support and tips to help them build a strong foundation for effective mentoring.

Building Confidence

As reverse mentors set out to teach and guide their senior colleagues, it’s understandable that they might not feel 100% confident in their abilities. In many cases, they’re more experienced in taking direction than giving it, and they may feel internal pressure to impress their senior mentees.

Providing mentoring training is one of the best things an organization can do to help reverse mentors increase their confidence. When reverse mentors understand what to expect and how to handle various situations, they’ll feel more sure of their ability to do the right thing. They’ll also be better mentors. According to a MENTOR study, mentors who receive training perform their roles more effectively.

Another way companies can increase reverse mentor confidence is to set clear expectations for both mentors and mentees. When mentors know exactly what is expected of them, they can prepare in advance to fulfill requirements so they can walk into the mentorship with confidence.

Establishing Trust

Mentoring is based on trust. While mentorships are first and foremost professional relationships, personal connection is a key element of success. The mentee needs to trust the mentor enough to be candid about their experience and receptive to what the mentor has to offer. The mentor needs to trust that the mentee is being honest and open so that the mentor can use their experience to address real issues. Mutual trust isn’t a given; it needs to be earned.

Reverse mentors can work on establishing trust from the start of mentorship in several ways, including being authentic, using active listening techniques, creating space for feedback and showing appreciation.

Setting Priorities

To set reverse mentors up for success, it’s important to create goals for both mentors and mentees. These should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals and include clear priorities. This helps reverse mentors understand the long-term goals for their mentoring efforts and how they should focus their energies along the way. This creates an easy-to-follow roadmap to help participants make their mentorships count.

Providing Structure

Providing a strong, well-defined structure is crucial for creating a consistent reverse mentoring program with built-in guidance and tools for both mentors and mentees. Chronus offers a platform that empowers organizations to make mentorship programs streamlined and scalable. Chronus software features include:

  • Efficient, customized participant matching.
  • Guided plans prove a framework for mentorship.
  • Easy-to-use tracking tools to measure success and improve programs over time.

With Chronus, companies can support reverse mentors in reaching their goals and making the most of their reverse mentorship experiences.

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